Native toIndonesia
RegionEipo River area in Eipumek District, Pegunungan Bintang Regency, Highland Papua
EthnicityEipo people
Native speakers
(3,000 cited 1987)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3eip

Eipo (Eipomek), or Lik, is a Mek language of the eastern highlands of Eipumek District, Pegunungan Bintang Regency, Highland Papua. It spoken by the Eipo people who live along the Eipo River. A large percentage of its vocabulary is shared with Una and Tanime, and they form one dialect area.[2]


Eipo belongs to the Eastern branch of Mek languages, which is a family of closely related languages belonging to the larger grouping of Trans-New Guinea languages.

Geographic distribution

The Eipo language is spoken by about 3,000 people along the Eipo River in the valley of Eipomek, which is situated in the eastern highlands of Highland Papua.[1]



Eipo exhibits the following 16 phonemic consonants:[3]

Consonant phonemes
  Bilabial Labio-
Alveolar Palatal Velar
Plosive p b     t d c   k ɡ
Fricative   β f   s          
Nasal   m       n       ŋ
Tap or flap           ɾ        
Approximant               j    


Eipo has five phonemic vowels:[3]

Monophthong phonemes
  Front Central Back
Close i   u
Open-mid e   o
Open   a  

Diphthongs are not regarded as separate phonemes.[3]



Eipo is generally isolating language, but exhibits an elaborate system of agglutination in verb formation.


The usual word order of Eipo is subject-object-verb (SOV).


Eipo has only four basic spatial deictics, which are usually accompanied by pointing gestures, since the deictics are used during face-to-face communication to refer to positions relative to the person.[5]: 119 


Eipo has many compound interrogatives:[5]: 95 

Writing system

Eipo is not historically a written language, but in recent decades a Latin alphabet has been devised for it. The letter values are mostly those of the IPA letters given above, with the exceptions of /β/ ⟨w⟩, /ŋ/ ⟨ng⟩, /ɾ/ ⟨r⟩, and /j/ ⟨y⟩.


  1. ^ a b Eipo at Ethnologue (25th ed., 2022) Closed access icon
  2. ^ Heeschen 1998, p. 18.
  3. ^ a b c Heeschen 1998, p. 117.
  4. ^ a b Heeschen 1998, p. 118.
  5. ^ a b Pawley, Andrew; Hammarström, Harald (2018). "The Trans New Guinea family". In Palmer, Bill (ed.). The Languages and Linguistics of the New Guinea Area: A Comprehensive Guide. The World of Linguistics. Vol. 4. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton. pp. 21–196. ISBN 978-3-11-028642-7.
  • Heeschen, Volker (1998). An Ethnographic Grammar of the Eipo Language (spoken in the central mountains of Irian Jaya (West New Guinea), Indonesia). Berlin: Reimer.
  • Heeschen, Volker and Wulf Schiefenhövel. 1983. Wörterbuch der Eiposprache: Eipo-Deutsch-Englisch. Berlin: Dietrich Reimer.